Punisher: Platoon #6
THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6 BY GARTH ENNIS, GORAN PARLOV, AND JORDIE BELLAIRE
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6 may be my favorite Punisher book of all time. It packs a powerful and emotional punch. Garth Ennis makes each character a fully developed human being. Goran Parlov's art acts as the perfect complement to Ennis' writing. You must pick up this series if you love The Punisher.
95 %
Ennis' Masterpiece

Much like writer Garth Ennis, I have a fascination with the Vietnam War. This bloody, depressing chapter of American history makes for captivating works of fiction. With THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6, Ennis cements this book as a haunting work that traces the roots of The Punisher’s eventual obsession with death. It also tells a strikingly realistic story about the effects of war on various members of Frank Castle’s first platoon. Ennis eschews his typically dark gallows humor style for a deathly serious story in THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6. This, along with Goran Parlov’s cartoony-yet-gritty art style, makes this book resonate with me on a deeper level. Simply put, this book makes this miniseries into, possibly, the greatest Vietnam War-based comic book ever written.

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Everything Ends in THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6

Last issue, Lt. Frank Castle led his first platoon into North Vietnamese territory. After an ambush by NVA forces, Castle and his crew fell back into the jungle, where multiple members ended up dead or gravely wounded. If that’s not bad enough, Ly Quang, a North Vietnamese woman who swore revenge on American soldiers after they massacred her village, finally attacked Frank after weeks of waiting. In THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6, Frank easily dispatches with Ly Quang, breaking her back on a rock and silently slashing her throat.

Punisher: Platoon #6
THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6, page 7. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Quang was being set up as the main villain of this book, but Ennis shows that in real life, there isn’t always a grand final battle. Most of the time, two people fighting each other can be quite anti-climactic. While she preyed on Castle for weeks, he didn’t know who she was. He just quickly killed an enemy combatant in a war zone. Even as The Punisher, this is Castle’s style. He’s not one for theatrics. After Quang dies, an American airstrike gives Castle time to save his injured platoon-mates’ lives.

It Gets Real in THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6

Throughout this series, the Vietnam War-based story is told through a framing device that has his platoon-mates speaking with a journalist in the present about Frank Castle’s first tour of duty in The ‘Nam. Not only does this serve to have the story told from the characters’ perspectives, it also is a way for Ennis to convey his feelings about the war and The Punisher as a character. In THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6, the characters give their feelings on Frank. They say that Frank basically gave up his humanity and the prospect of a happy life in order to let the rest of them get out of ‘Nam alive. These characters end up going home while Castle signs up for multiple tours.

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All of this is encapsulated in the issue’s title, “Happy Childhoods.” This is in reference to Michael Herr’s book Dispatches, where Herr writes, “I think that Vietnam was what we had instead of happy childhoods.” The war shaped these young soldiers’ lives. This is what they did before they started truly living their lives. They’ll carry with them the scars, both physical and mental, that they received during the war for the rest of their lives. The platoon-mates can’t help but think that if it wasn’t for Castle, their lives would have ended there before they had a chance to live them. Meanwhile, the war truly did shape Castle’s entire life, more so than any other character in the book. Save for a brief reprieve between his time in Vietnam and that fateful day in Central Park, Castle never left the war. In his mind, he’s still fighting it.

Parlov’s Exemplary Artwork

Goran Parlov’s distinctive art style perfectly fits Garth Ennis’ Punisher books. Parlov draws Castle as a tank of a man. While all of his squad mates are relatively lean, Castle is full of muscle. It’s like he’s a force of nature, which suits The Punisher character amazingly. When he drops Quang onto the rock, breaking her back, you can hear the sickening crack, even though the words aren’t there. Just her look of utter surprise and pain shows how powerful and relentless Castle is.

Punisher: Platoon #6
THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6, page 6. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Castle’s look of blinding pain also brings out his humanity a bit. He can be hurt too. This is before he becomes The Punisher, so he’s still at least somewhat human.

Final Thoughts: THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6

If you’re at all interested in The Punisher, or the Vietnam War as a whole, pick up this series. You owe it to yourself. I don’t recommend starting with this issue since it’s the final one in a miniseries. However, once you do get to THE PUNISHER: PLATOON #6, I think you’ll love it as much as I did. This book makes this series transcend from a great Punisher book to one of my all-time favorite series.

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